The Launch of Professional Learning at JO Combs

JO Combs Unified School District in Arizona has been a member of the Modern Teacher National Network since June of 2017.  Gayle Blanchard, Superintendent, was anticipating launching the #Forward Instructional Model at the close of the school year.  Throughout the year, building staff and stakeholders had participated in visioning exercises and the Digital Convergence Steering Committee was excited to unveil their new Instructional Model, and the brand, #Forward, that would be used to refer to this work in the future.  A portion of this message included the invitation for teachers to participate in professional learning cohorts that would be supported by #Forward coaches. 

 JO Combs Digital Convergence Steering Committee

JO Combs Digital Convergence Steering Committee

The end of an academic school year is busy.  Teachers and principals are closing out their classrooms and buildings, preparing for a summer of painting and cleaning schedules, moving forward with capital improvement projects, and often updating the technology infrastructure within the district.  At the district level, professional learning and new teacher inductions are being planned for the year ahead.  It’s a difficult time of the year to hire substitutes as many scramble to use up remaining days of vacation.  This year, school districts in several states ran up against the Red for Ed teacher movement aimed at demanding more funding for public education.  Across the country schools were faced with how to handle teacher walkouts with as little impact to students as possible.  In Arizona, at JO Combs School District, a member of the Modern Teacher National Network, and many other Arizona school districts, so many teachers walked out the districts had to shut down.  Not just for one day, or two days, but six days.  In the end, students had enough hours to legally complete the school year without extending the calendar into June.  Teachers, on the other hand, were required to work a specific set of days and many districts were left with a quandary of how to positively handle six days of professional learning that would engage teachers who would otherwise already be at the end of their contract year.

 JO Combs PL Plan

JO Combs PL Plan

The steering committee revised their professional learning plan to include a school-wide introduction the professional learning modules in anticipation of launching teacher cohorts in the fall.  This introduction would provide teachers a glimpse into the Modern Teacher Professional Learning Modules through the District PL Goals page.  Platform management allows a district to display Modern Teacher Professional Learning Modules, District PL Goals and the modules associated with each goal, or all of the above. This allows districts the ability to match module accessibility to the appropriate entry point for teacher professional learning based on district needs.

After creating professional learning goals aligned with the #Forward Instructional Model, JO Combs assigned 3 Modern Teacher modules to Goal #1.  During the scope of the six days, teachers would be required to complete the literacy section of the three modules.  Modules were introduced by principals at the school level by utilizing the district vision deck with adaptations related to the module topic.  Time was provided for teachers to individually work through the literacy portions of the module, coupled with active and engaging group dialogue.  Teachers and district staff closed the school year with positivity, excitement and understanding of the vision of #Forward.  The launch, untraditional as it was, has promoted inquiry into the work of #Forward and an increase in requests for participation in Professional Learning cohorts to be launched later this fall.  Dashboard statistics provide a glimpse of teacher progress through the #Forward PL Goals.

 Architect a Learner-Centered Environment

Architect a Learner-Centered Environment

 Architect Rigorous Learning Experiences

Architect Rigorous Learning Experiences

 Architect a Modern Physical Learning Environment

Architect a Modern Physical Learning Environment

 All Modules: Literacy

All Modules: Literacy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Digital Convergence Supports Smooth Transitions in Leadership

Transitions among senior leadership in a school district are always challenging.  New leaders often bring with them fresh ideas, direction, and their own perspectives on district direction as it relates to teaching and learning.  Simply put, when leadership changes, a period of transition often follows, often leading to a period of inactivity, confusion, and frustration as to what direction the district will take in future years. 

The Digital Convergence Framework changes this mindset. When the Digital Convergence Framework is in use by a district, the artifacts produced from success indicator progress provide new and existing leadership with guidance and direction for next steps.  A new leader can easily view these artifacts of past work and, using the framework as a reference, easily understand the next steps, easing frustration of existing leadership.

Elizabeth Forward School District of Pennsylvania has been a Modern Teacher Network member since April of 2017.  Soon after joining, they established a brand name for the work of Digital Convergence – IGNITE.  This brand name allowed unification of all stakeholders around the work of Digital Convergence and gave it a community stamp.  IGNITE is what people think of when they imagine the Conceptual Age and Modern Learning in Elizabeth Forward.

Just recently, Elizabeth Forward School District School Board announced the retirement of Superintendent Bart Rocco, and appointed Todd Keruskin, formerly the Elizabeth Forward Assistant Superintendent to Superintendent. Additionally, a new Assistant Superintendent would need to be selected.  By reviewing the work of Digital Convergence with the School Board early on, the School Board understood and valued the direction the district had taken with IGNITE.  They were able to select the right leader for the job, ensuring the work of the district would continue in this direction.  The School Board and school based leadership welcomed Keith Konyk as the new Assistant Superintendent.  The Digital Convergence platform provided an easy access entry point to the work happening in Elizabeth Forward..

 Dr. Bart Rocco

Dr. Bart Rocco

 Dr. Todd Keruskin

Dr. Todd Keruskin

 Dr. Keith Konyk

Dr. Keith Konyk

With progress well underway to IGNITE innovation in all students, the district was able to execute plans to continue moving the work of IGNITE forward because of the dynamic and iterative journey outlined in the Digital Convergence Framework.  This fall, the district will launch their very first Professional Learning Cohort of teachers to engage in the Professional Learning Modules and the district will begin the process of scaling teacher proficiency as it relates to their Professional Learning Goals.  Elizabeth Forward is committed to having rock-star teachers in each and every classroom, not just a select few.  The launching of cohorts is the tipping point to making this happen and the monitoring and coaching of teachers within the platform ensures this will happen.  With both a new Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent, the work of IGNITE continues to move forward.  Principals have begun to articulate the plans for professional learning so all teachers in their building will be fluent with the work of IGNITE

Elizabeth Forward isn’t alone.  The Assistant Superintendent of Colonial School District in Delaware, Dr. Lori Duerr, announced her departure last month.  Her existing role will be shared by two individuals, Pete Leida and Jeff Menzer, both grounded in the Digital Convergence Framework and committed to growing the Colonial Power Of We Instructional Model.  When Lori introduced the concept of Digital Convergence to Colonial, she realized the need to incorporate a variety of stakeholders into the conversation.  Working as a team has created a shared ownership of this work ensuring that the work of Digital Convergence and The Power Of We would not be an initiative that would come and go, but rather a movement that gains understanding, buy-in, and an actuality, through time.  As of today, The Power of We is the way of business in Colonial classrooms. 

 Brand

Brand

 Instructional Model

Instructional Model

Having a proven framework to ground both new and existing leaders eases the transition and creates consistency for district leaders, resulting in continued progress toward district goals to carry out the vision of Modern Learning.   

Dr. Lori Duerr has recently been named the new Superintendent of Falmouth Public Schools in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  Congratulations, Dr. Duerr.

 Colonial's team receiving their award for reaching Stage 3 in the Digital Convergence Framework

Colonial's team receiving their award for reaching Stage 3 in the Digital Convergence Framework

The Cajon Valley EduTour: Collaborating to Prepare Students for the World of Work

Cajon Valley Union School District of California, a member of the National Network, is on a mission to realign public education to meet the demands of life after graduation. They accomplish this by providing each child with a full understanding of the World of Work so that they are equipped to make career choices that reflect their strengths, interests, and values. At the heart of their efforts is a cohesive, district-wide vision: happy kids engaged in meaningful relationships on a path to gainful employment.

Recently, Cajon Valley connected with two other school districts within the Modern Teacher National NetworkBaltimore County Public Schools, and Fraser Public Schools.  On-site visits were scheduled to learn more about the work within each district’s schools and communities. The Cajon Valley team, made up of educators, administrators, board members, business partners, and community members, embarked on a journey to further inspire the growth of their vision of The World of Work, modern learning, and what this might look like within the classrooms and community of Cajon Valley. The Cajon Valley EduTour began with NCDC18, the inaugural conference hosted by the National Council on Digital Convergence. An understanding of Digital Convergence and innovative Keynote sessions and conference sessions laid the ground work for a deeper understanding of the road ahead.

The second stop was Baltimore County Public Schools, (BCPS). Nick Schiner of BCPS hosted the Cajon Valley educators on a Maker-Space tour of the city.  The Maker Space progression included a trip to The Digital Harbor Foundation, a youth maker space utilized within BCPS, OpenWorks, a community Maker-Space, and The Foundry, an Industrial Maker Space.  The last stop was to City Garage, located right next door to the Foundry.  City Garage is a dynamic workplace that enriches Baltimore's manufacturing heritage and cultivates the talent of local artisans and creative entrepreneurs. City Garage's nearby access to The Foundry allows these entrepreneurs access to costly machinery.  These types of spaces allow for individuals of all shapes and sizes to grow their strengths, interests, and values, a concept the team from Cajon Valley is very interested in further developing. This type of spirit gets kids excited about future opportunities inside of the World of Work and also serves to connect the community of Cajon Valley with the school district that serves them.

 

  Superintendent Dr. David Miyashiro, on behalf of the Cajon Valley team, presents Nicholas Schiner of BCPS with a Certificate of Appreciation.

Superintendent Dr. David Miyashiro, on behalf of the Cajon Valley team, presents Nicholas Schiner of BCPS with a Certificate of Appreciation.

The last stop on the tour was Fraser Public Schools of Michigan, most recently recognized for reaching Stage 5 in the Digital Convergence Framework. In Fraser, students are becoming increasingly more motivated to take ownership of their learning, and teachers district-wide are afforded the flexibility, know-how, and resources to personalize learning for their students.  

The Fraser visit began with an overview of how Fraser approached the work of Digital Convergence and included a walking tour of Success Indicator evidence.  Work products and photographs related to milestone Success Indicators were posted throughout the room and the group had to opportunity to engage with district staff who were leading the work.  

 

  Dr. Dave Richards preparing to speak to visitors about the Fraser journey. 

Dr. Dave Richards preparing to speak to visitors about the Fraser journey. 

We then had the opportunity to tour a Middle School or Elementary School, were served a delicious lunch prepared by Fraser high school students, and concluded with a High School tour.  The high school classrooms we visited incorporated both innovative classroom teaching practices that reflected the district's realized culture of Time, Pace, Path, and Place Learning at scale and Fraser's version of Maker-Spaces.

 

  Superintendent Dr. David Miyashiro, on behalf of the Cajon Valley team, presents a Certificate of Appreciation to Fraser Superintendent Dr. David Richards and two Fraser School Board Members.

Superintendent Dr. David Miyashiro, on behalf of the Cajon Valley team, presents a Certificate of Appreciation to Fraser Superintendent Dr. David Richards and two Fraser School Board Members.

Modern Teacher's National Network represents the individual collective work of Digital Convergence across the country to give innovative educational leaders the united voice needed to move K-12 education into the future. The National Network is designed to create a forum for community, collaboration, and consensus as districts navigate the transition to modern learning facing common goals and challenges. Through Modern Teacher's online platform, districts can access useful information about other members, such as their location and helpful demographic information, Digital Convergence Framework Stage, Success Indicator completion and activity, Professional Learning progress, and Key Strategic Milestones. Drawing from these diverse experiences and Stages in the Framework creates traction and builds momentum to transition the traditional classroom to modern learning environments at scale.

Are you taking advantage of the resources available within the National Network?  A good place to start is by visiting the National Network Page within the Modern Teacher platform.  You can find the link under the Digital Convergence tab.  Take some time to explore other districts also undergoing the challenging work of Digital Convergence and begin connecting them. Your Strategy Officers can offer assistance as you begin to explore the many available possibilities.

Hamilton Community Schools of Michigan Tackles Success Indicator #4

Success Indicator #4

Stakeholders have been identified and engaged in activities around the Theory of Action and the construction of the vision of the modern learning environment. This Success Indicator appears early in the Framework because of the importance of securing stakeholder buy-in to Digital Convergence. Recognizing that the value of a community comes from the value of collective voices, the stakeholder engagement process provides an opportunity to continually build a collective voice through guidance and feedback.

Hamilton's Process

Hamilton Community Schools became a Modern Teacher National Network member in September of 2017.  Superintendent David Tebo knew that his district leadership was well equipped to make decisions independently around their vision of a modern learnring environment. However, he also knew that Digital Convergence could not take place when only one team worked in isolation so the leadership team began to identify and include key stakeholders for guidance and feedback in developing this vision. 

David began engaging stakeholders in defining a vision for the modern learning environment through stakeholder engagement meetings involving both parent and community groups. At the same time, school principals held similar type meetings with staff at their campuses. The first agenda item: responding to the needs of society in the conceptual age. Specifically, each group addressed the following questions:

  1. What Are The Demands Of Society In The Conceptual Age?

  2. What Role Does Hamilton Community Schools Play In Responding To Those Demands?

In each meeting, small groups were developed and each small group created a poster depicting the needs of society and Hamilton's role within those needs.  Each small group presented their poster to the stakeholder group, providing further understanding to the needs and responses identified in their vision of a modern learning environment. The open dialogue that followed allowed for stakeholders to voice their opinions and hopes and to project future progress for their community schools.

In crafting a vision together with stakeholders, Hamilton Community Schools began generating understanding and buy-in toward the development of a vision for modern learning. Now, as Hamilton moves forward with Digital Convergence, they are able to reconnect with these stakeholder groups and build off of their journey established together, as a team. 

Below are a few images generated during a few of these stakeholder meetings.